Aerobic training in persons who have recovered from juvenile dermatomyositis

M Riisager, P R Mathiesen, J Vissing, N Preisler, M C Ørngreen
Neuromuscular Disorders: NMD 2013, 23 (12): 962-8
A recent study has shown that 36 persons who had recovered from juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM) have on average an 18% decrease in maximal oxygen uptake. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of a 12-week aerobic training program in this group, and assess whether aerobic training can normalize aerobic capacity to the expected level for age and gender. The patients participating in the study, one male and nine females (16-42 years of age), were in remission from JDM, defined as no clinical or biochemical evidence of disease activity and no medical treatment for 1 year. The patients had a median disease duration of 3.4 years (1.4-10.3), a median treatment duration of 2.4 years (0.4-9.3) and a median duration of remission of 7.0 years (1.2-30.0). Patients trained at home on a cycle ergometer for 12 weeks at a heart rate interval corresponding to 65% of their maximal oxygen uptake (VO(2max)). VO(2max) and maximal workload (W(max)) were determined before and after the 12-week training period through an incremental cycling test to exhaustion. The patients served as their own controls. Eight patients with JDM in remission completed the 12-week exercise program; one patient completed 9 weeks out of the 12-week program and one dropped out of the study. Training increased VO(2max) and W(max) by 26% and 30% (P < 0.001). Creatine kinase (CK) levels were normal pre-training and did not change with training, reflecting no muscle damage. We also found that at a given workload, heart rate was lowered significantly after the 12-week training period, indicating an improvement in cardiovascular fitness. This study shows that 12 weeks of moderate-intensity aerobic training is an effective and safe method to increase oxidative capacity and fitness in persons who have recovered from JDM. The results indicate that the low oxidative capacity in JDM patients in remission is reversible and can be improved. Thus, we recommend frequent aerobic training to be incorporated into supervised physiotherapy sessions in the treatment of JDM patients in remission.

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